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New England Patriots

Oct 25, 2020; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Cam Newton (1) looks on as offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels talks with quarterback Jarrett Stidham (4) on the sideline as they take on the San Francisco 49ers in the second half at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

By Alex Barth, 985TheSportsHub.com

Despite being officially eliminated from playoff contention, the Patriots likely won’t make a change at quarterback on Monday.

According to Jeremy Fowler of ESPN, Cam Newton “is expected to start” when the Patriots take on the Bills on Monday Night Football this week. “Newton is slated to start barring a late change,” Fowler adds.

Many fans have expressed desire to see 2019 fourth-round pick Jarrett Stidham take over and perhaps be a spark plug for New England’s 27th-ranked offense. Things have been especially rough in recent weeks, with Newton averaging just 120 passing yards a game over the past four games, with one touchdown and three interceptions. Earlier in the season, Newton had been able to make plays on the ground, but in that same stretch he’s averaging just 3.8 yards per carry – down from 4.1 through the first nine games.

Meanwhile, Stidham has played in four games this year, all in relief efforts. He’s completed 54.5 percent of the 33 passes he’s thrown for 212 yards and two touchdowns, while throwing three interceptions and taking three sacks.

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Seeing Stidham as the starting quarterback with a full week of preparation is the last box to check when it comes to a full NFL evaluation for the 24-year-old. As the Patriots search for “the next guy” to replace Tom Brady, many figured now is when he’d get that chance with the team no longer searching for a playoff spot.

Still, whenever Patriots coaches – Bill Belichick or his assistants – have been asked about Stidham taking over as the starter, they’ve all responded with some form of ‘our main focus is to win.’ For example, when asked about Stidham today, offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels replied, “I’m confident that I understand where Jarrett’s at in his development. But I also know that our job is to try to go out and win.” That’s hardy a ringing endorsement.

With the New York Jets and their barely-NFL caliber roster on the docket for Week 17, many had this Monday night meeting with the AFC East champions penciled in as the last real chance to get a good look at Stidham. It appears though, that for the 14th time in 15 games, Cam Newton will lead the Patriots offense.

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Alex Barth is a writer and digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Looking for a podcast guest? Let him know on Twitter @RealAlexBarth or via email at Alexander.Barth@bbgi.com.